About SCHOOLS NorthEast

Set up by schools for schools, we are the first and only school-led regional network in the UK.

In 2007, a group of Head Teachers came together to establish SCHOOLS NorthEast. Their aim was to create a unique culture of collaboration and mutual support amongst North East schools to ensure the best possible outcomes for all of our region’s young people. Ten years on, SCHOOLS NorthEast is stronger than ever.

Over the years, we have worked to facilitate new projects and additional support, connect schools to each other and external organisations such as business, provide a strategic voice for our members and promote a wider understanding of the issues facing education in the North East.

SCHOOLS NorthEast is governed by our 11 Trustees, 3 co-opted Trustees and 26 strong advisory board of local Head Teachers, elected by their peers in each area, who provide SCHOOLS NorthEast with direction and support. We also have a core team of 10 based in Newcastle.

With a well-established annual calendar of events, a Weekly Update with a distribution of over 3,000 readers and over 3,000 Twitter Followers, SCHOOLS NorthEast’s influence is growing both locally and nationally!

Mission and Vision

SCHOOLS NorthEast is an inclusive network led by Head Teachers creating unique culture of collaboration and mutual support and bringing the expertise of our members to benefit developments within our region.

Our Vision

Our young people are confident, enterprising, skilled and aspiring; learning and developing within well-resourced, nurturing and purposeful school environments.

Our school leaders, governors and staff demonstrate exceptional professionalism enjoying the resounding confidence of students, parents, communities, employers and decision-makers.

Our Head Teachers have a powerful voice regionally and nationally. By working collaboratively and creatively with their peers and external partners, they develop expertise, shape policy and drive change. We are recognised as a centre for innovation and the bench-mark of excellence.

Our region is vibrant, self reliant and outward looking, featuring a dynamic economy, healthy environment and distinctive culture.


Our Trustees 

Our Board

Advisory Board Members

Sunderland John HallworthSecondaryConsilium Academies
SunderlandClaire SmithPrimaryHill View Infant School
SunderlandColin LofthousePrimaryRickleton Primary School
Stockton-on-TeesJulia ArmstrongPrimaryHartburn Primary School
South TynesideGemma JeynesPrimaryValley View Primary School
South TynesideLiz HayesSecondaryBoldon School
Redcar and ClevelandGrant HopkinsPrimaryLockwood Primary School
Redcar and ClevelandLinda HalbertSecondaryFreebrough Academy
Redcar and ClevelandCarl FaulknerPrimaryNormanby Primary
Redcar & ClevelandPeter Eyre PrimarySaltburn Learning Campus
NorthumberlandCaroline PryerMiddle SchoolsPonteland Middle School
NorthumberlandAndrew HudsonPrimaryMickley First School
North TynesideIan WilkinsonSecondaryGeorge Stephenson High School
Newcastle upon TyneSarah Holmes-CarneSecondaryKenton School
MiddlesbroughLisa BigginPrimary Ayresome Primary School
MiddlesbroughPhil LathamSecondaryMacmillan Academy
HartlepoolJohn HardyPrimarySt John Vianney RC Primary School
HartlepoolMark TillingSecondaryHigh Tunstall College of Science
GatesheadMatt YoungerPrimaryColegate Community Primary School
GatesheadSteve HaighSecondaryWhickham School
DurhamKieran McLoughlinIndependent schoolsDurham School
DurhamAnnette SowdenPrimarySt Mary's RC Primary School
DurhamDavid PriestleySecondaryGreenfield Community College


Our Team

Mike Parker


Mike Parker is Director of SCHOOLS NorthEast, the UK’s first and only regional schools network encompassing 1,250 schools.
A former national journalist and Business Editor, Mike is an external affairs specialist who has devoted much of his working career to campaigning for positive change across education, business, housing and social care sectors.

Mike has extensive experience of working in and for networks, supporting organisations to engage, share best practice and providing a representative voice.

In addition to leading the SCHOOLS NorthEast charity, Mike is also on the Department for Education ISSP Forum; the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Governance and Leadership; the National Careers Service Partnership Advisory Group; the Education Endowment Foundation Advisory Board on £10m NE Primary Literacy Campaign; and, a school governor.

Chris Zarraga

Director of Operations & Development

Prior to joining SCHOOLS NorthEast, Chris worked with over 165 schools in the North East and various education organisations including local authorities, Excellence Partnerships, 14-19 Groups, the Specialist Schools & Academies Trust, and School Improvement Officers. He led a large scale culture change project in education across the North East and was the development consultant for the LEGI funded Wansbeck Enterprise Education Network. Chris has 12 years of strategic and business development, consultancy and client-management experience at a ‘Big Four' accountancy firm and various financial institutions and an MBA from Durham University Business School.

Erin Doughty

Accounts Apprentice

Erin joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in September 2016 as Accounts Apprentice. She successfully completed the AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting in her first year and is now working toward the AAT Level 3 Certificate. Erin is often the first point contact at the SCHOOLS NorthEast Office.

Sam Murray

Events Manager

Sam joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in March 2017 as Events Co-ordinator and in October 2017 she was promoted to Events Manager. Sam has an extensive background in events; before joining SCHOOLS NorthEast she worked as a Leisure Centre Supervisor providing a wide range of in-house events. Previous to this, she was an Assistant Entertainments Manager for Bourne Leisure. Sam is very passionate about providing a better future for children and young people, which is what drew her to SCHOOLS NorthEast. 

Pauline Aitchison

Business Manager

Pauline joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in July 2017 as Business Manager and has almost 20 years’ of education experience through working in Northumberland Schools.  She was previously a School Business Manager and also comes with Governance experience having served as both a Governor and Associate Governor in Northumberland.    She understands the challenges faced by schools and is committed to making a difference to the learning chances of pupils in the region, which is what drew her to SCHOOLS NorthEast.

Nicola Chapman

Marketing and Communications Officer

Nicola joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in August 2017 as the charity’s Marketing and Communications Officer. She has spent six years working in the third sector, previously working at East Durham Business Service (EDBS) in Peterlee and, prior to joining SCHOOLS NorthEast, Nicola worked in the Marketing department of Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU), building up an excellent knowledge of Marketing to diverse audiences, engaging with the media and promoting the fantastic work of a charity.

Lucy McMahon

Relationship Manager

Lucy joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in 2017. She has previously worked for membership organisations such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Codeworks Centre for Digital Excellence, representing and supporting members in these organisations across the North East. Prior to this she was Events Manager for Business Link North East, where she worked for four years. During this time she built an excellent understanding of the North East region, and how to engage with and bring together organisations from all parts of the region.

Christopher Hawkins

Policy Officer

Christopher joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in August 2017 as Policy Officer. He has six years of experience in policy work, having served as researcher to Iain Wright, former MP for Hartlepool and Chair of Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, from 2011 to 2017. During this time, he developed a strong ability to understand and interpret Government policy.

Sarah Baker

Business Admin Apprentice

Sarah joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in January 2018 as the Business Admin Apprentice, and is currently working towards her OCR Qualification within Business Administration.

School Business Manager Council

Our School Business Manager Council was founded in 2013 to build upon the existing local SBM networks, and provide a platform in every type and phase of school in the region. 

The Council aims to: 

Enable colleagues from across the region to meet and share intelligence and Best Practice with each other and their local networks;

Develop a powerful voice for the North East’s SBMs and raise their profile with Head Teachers to ensure they fully understand the contribution that SBMs make to North East schools;

Provide local and regional support, bespoke to each local area/ network.

The Council is comprised of School Business Managers from across the different sub-areas of the North East. The complete list of council members HERE


Schools North East has just been rebranded and we're working on developing a new website to keep you up to date with everything that's going on in our world.

You'll still find all the information you need on being a Partner School, our Commercial and Education Supporter memberships, Healthy MindED, Jobs in Schools I North East, latest news, policy updates, our events, accessing Marketplace and much, much more on the website, so please bear with us whilst we make our changes.